MSLS Portfolio Project

Theory of Change: Motion Collage

Artist Statement

This is my theory of change and my vision of the tragic gap between the beauty I see in the world and the reality of the pain that coexists with grace. I wanted to express the incommensurable tension of all that is this life: the stillness of nature, the brutality of our species, the grief, the impermanence, the rigidity of consumption, the discordance of time, the interconnection, the power and the pulse of rhythm .

A few years ago I developed a style of collage that focuses on geometric patterns. While this approach is in some ways structured and controlled, it also draws me out of my intellectual mind and into the process of observing imagery and working through my hands. I was inspired to utilize this medium because it is familiar. Comfort allowed me to be less distracted by process and dive more fully into creative expression. I have built a library of used coffee table books that I imagine as holding the textures of earth (both human and non-human). As I turn the pages I see the collective imagery of nature and culture float in front of me. This opens a powerful imaginative process and my I pull on threads and build patterns within expanding layers of visual complexity.

I was inspired to build on this two dimensional collage process and multiply the layers of complexity through film. This allowed me to add another dimension of time and space by subjectively choosing to highlight certain aspects of the source books, collage and process. It also allowed me to tell a larger story about myself and my own creative process by weaving in imagery of the landscape that feeds my spirit, creativity and physical body. Given the expansive terrain we have covered this semester and my aspiration to further cultivate my imaginative, cognitive process, I figured that this approach would best allow me to communicate the emotional landscape I witness.

Here are a few of the main threads of the semester woven into my “motion theory of change”:

  • Communication with mystery and source of creation - more than curation, I saw this creative process as divination. The smudge that is burned was gifted to me, carries meaning and has a special power to help root me and set intention. I asked for support and that this creative act would be gifted with grace, beauty and the power to benefit the whole of life larger than myself. I prayed that nature could design meaning through me. I created this collage as a gift with care and love, with the intention that I would give it as an offering to the land I am local to. In the end I hoped that this project might transport the audience into the space of mystery. I didn’t feel in control of the process and like a trance I don’t fully understand what emerged.

  • Stepping into the freedom of artistic process - I have felt challenged and constrained by commercial filmmaking and formulaic approaches that prioritize profitability and audience engagement. I wanted to experiment with how I could do something larger, more imaginative and complex. For me this piece was a departure that broke new ground. I view these photos as the physical mirror of the collective consciousness. As I worked with these images I felt as if I was flipping through a catalog of earth's memory. I shape and condense this vision through the funnel of my own lens. Istrived to build creative ceremony into this artistic process. In the end this felt like a ritual and worked on me as much as I manipulated the materials.

  • Integrating Technology, Process and Nature - Ultimately, this piece feels to me like weaving. Creating a tapestry out of threads of my life that I long felt were divergent. I have often seen technology as oppositional to my connection to nature and spirit. However, in the creation of this project I tried to inseparably tie the mediums together with myself and the place I dwell. I brought a camera to a beautiful piece of forest one hundred feet from my house where a creek flows through the tall trees. I looked for the beauty in the details, the places my eyes rest and the beings my soul ponders when I sit motionless for a time. Ultimately, the physical portion of this collage becomes part of nature again, blurring the divide between technological, human and natural spheres.

  • Tension and incommensurability - The physical collage juxtaposes clean geometric lines with the fluidity of nature's design. The imagery is both discordant and harmonious. The imagery is appropriated and repurposed and I acknowledge and invite the tension in that fact. The vision reflects the collective truth that life on earth is both exquisite and harrowing. In the culmination of the piece, tension builds as the fruit of the creative labor is released and burned. The creative current continues, recycles and pulses in a new form.


Personal criteria that I would like to be assessed on:

  • Concept and vision of the portfolio

  • Originality and imaginative approach

  • Time and effort put into the portfolio

  • The portfolio’s relevance to the semester's themes and topics

  • The portfolio’s success in executing the concept and vision

  • Care and consideration to details (aesthetic, grammar, etc.)

  • The power and impact of the portfolio for peers


Self-assessment/reflection on how the portfolio aligned with my goals:

    I stepped into new terrain and took some risks. I think I created something that mirrors the tension I feel in the world and is core to my MSLS experience. I’m happy I stepped beyond the intellectual and into a more ritual space. In the end I think viewers may also be carried into that ritual space, and that feels like a success. I strived to keep the portfolio relevant to MSLS and I think it’s intertwined but I’m not entirely sure. I gave a lot to this and it worked on me.


Specific feedback you might be seeking:

  • How did watching this make you feel?

  • What questions or thoughts did it bring up?

  • What do you think I was seeking to communicate?

  • What came through?

  • What do you think worked creatively and what didn’t?